Work progresses on I-15 ‘choke point’; Virgin River Trail advisory

Cranes insert "drill shafts" into the ground that will be a part of the main support for new I-15 bridges replacing the two currently over the Virgin River between Exits 4 and 5, St. George, Utah, March 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Work on widening Interstate 15 and replacing narrow bridges between Exits 5 and 6 continues with some noticeable signs of progress nearly two months into the job.

What’s new?

The median between the north and southbound lanes of I-15 between Exits 4 and 5 will soon be paved over with asphalt where a concrete divider will be set up as a part of a freeway widening project, St. George, Utah, March 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Work to add an auxiliary lane to I-15 between the Brigham Road/Exit 4 and Dixie Drive/Exit 5 interchanges began in the second half of January. Since then the median between the north and southbound lanes has been torn up and leveled in preparation for asphalt paving, according to a construction update the Utah Department of Transportation issued Monday.

When completed, the paved median will have a concrete divider between the north and southbound lanes with space that will allow for future lane expansion.

In addition, drill shafts are currently being inserted by large cranes in the area of the bridges over the Virgin River. These will be where the underground concrete columns will be formed that will ultimately function as the main bridge supports.

Work will soon begin above the Virgin River Trail to stabilize the soil with a method called “jet grouted columns.”

“This process is critical in order to keep the soil from collapsing and putting undue pressure on the bridge support columns in the event of a flood or an earthquake,” according to UDOT.

The widening project is a part of an overall project to upgrade I-15 between mileposts 0 and 16.

Other projects have included 2013’s diverging-diamond interchange construction at St. George Boulevard/Exit 8 and the recent widening of I-15 to three lanes between Exit 8 and the Green Springs/Exit 10 interchanges.

Purpose for the roadwork

Cranes insert “drill shafts” into the ground that will be a part of the main support for new I-15 bridges replacing the two currently over the Virgin River between Exits 4 and 5, St. George, Utah, March 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

The plan is to add an auxiliary lane in both directions that will allow drivers to enter the freeway and exit at the next interchange without merging with through-traffic or changing lanes – basically just driving straight on through. The new lanes are anticipated to improve traffic flow and enhance safety.

The area has been described as a “choke point” by UDOT planners due to how narrow it becomes while crossing the Virgin River.

Adding those new lanes will involve demolishing and replacing the narrow bridges over the Virgin River – a process expected to conclude by December.

In addition to providing a third lane of travel, the new bridges will also be able to accommodate the creation of a fourth lane in the future.

Lane closures

Work crews will be working around the clock to finish the project with as little disruption to traffic flow as possible for the time being. Some specific work activities have been designated to daytime hours only in consideration of nearby residents and hotels.

From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., all north and southbound lanes will be open for use.

From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., all north and southbound lanes will be open for use with the exception of the occasional single-lane closure as needed.

Virgin River Trail closure

UDOT also wants to remind the public that the segment of the popular Virgin River Trail that goes into the freeway bridge is currently closed to public access.

“We recognize this is a highly-used trail, and in order to ensure the highest levels of safety for the public and construction personnel, this portion of the trail will be inaccessible until the work under I-15 is complete,” UDOT officials said in Monday’s work update. “Please help us keep everyone safe by following posted signs and alternative routes.”

A map of alternative routes is supplied below.

A map of alternative routes the public can take due to the closure of the segment of the Virgin River Trail that passes under a set of interstate bridges where roadwork is currently taking place. | Map courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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2 Comments

  • old school March 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Kudos to UDOT on the monumental progress they’ve made and in maintaining a steady flow of traffic to the same time. Due to my dependency on that stretch of road I was dreading the project, though they’re ability in balancing all the variables has exceeded my wildest expectations. The only weak spot I can see is the south bound entrance at Dixie Dr which seems to enter at an angle that prevents motorist from seeing traffic until they are right on top of it. I’ve actually seen vehicles stop at this point out of shear confusion. Adding more of a temporary “merge” lane would help and possibly a “through traffic left lane sign”.

  • mmsandie March 15, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    It’s easy go thru bloomington from west side of town and avoid it … Why did they put only 2 lanes even. After the big flood.
    You gave 6 lanes if traffic squeezing into 2 lanes.. And the bluff entrance is a death trap seeing lanes from the north cross in front of you trying to go to Dixie dr.. Poor engineering, people tell me when they try and get on the highway, from Dixie dr exit even they get squeezed to the right guardrail, those on the highway won,t let you get in….the lane, wait till summer and moving trucks, rv,s people traveling from out of the country and rental cars.. It’s a disaster waiting to happen..

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